Although Facebook has faced a number of bumps in the road since it was founded, it seems that CEO Mark Zuckerberg is a Teflon man: nothing ever sticks. With the Cambridge Analytica scandal behind him, it appears that Facebook has bounced back with gains that overcame the all-time low they reached when the scandal first hit the news waves. However, it’s important to look at the scandal and understand that despite Facebook’s ability to recover, the overall impact the data breach had on the world still remains.
The scandal occurred when it was discovered that the U.K. consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica accessed and stole private information from Facebook users. If that wasn’t bad enough, they then used that data to customize ads that are believed to have swayed the 2016 presidential election. It was first said it affected 50 million Facebook users, but later revealed it was more like 87 million.
This is not the first time that Facebook has been under scrutiny for the way they use data and how it affects the privacy of its users. Luckily for Facebook, most users don’t give much thought to Facebook using their images and data for multiple reasons. However, this recent issue shows just how many users can be affected by a data breach and also how this information can be used. It goes even deeper than that, as people are realizing that tampering with an election has affected one of the most respected processes in the free world, namely the right to vote honestly in an uncorrupt system. This has put tech companies under scrutiny for the abilities they have and the influences it can have on society.
Advertising and Data Breaches
Although, Facebook stock has recovered there are further repercussions that will affect their bottom line. For example, many large advertisers have pulled their ads or paused campaigns in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica breach. Adding to the concerns is what Facebook will do to handle these issues and the huge lack of trust that consumers now have towards Facebook. This could mean that the user experience will have to improve to regain trust, which in turn will provide less intimate insights to advertisers. This could turn advertisers off should they feel that less intimate targeting will decrease the effectiveness of reaching an audience that is extremely precise.
Facebook now requires consent by advertisers before they can launch a Facebook campaign. This is believed to have reduced the value of what Facebook has to offer marketers, and could be a signal that there is more change on the horizon. However, since advertising is necessary to keep Facebook afloat, it will be careful in how restrictive ads become as they want to improve user trust, but not lose advertising dollars.
Potential Ongoing Impact
It’s not just data breaches that are becoming a society issue. It is also the fact that data is being offered to and paid for by advertisers. From consumers to businesses and healthcare facilities to military, the ability to access sensitive information whether it is personal, corporate or government has implications that should have everyone worried.
Here are some of the possible changes that should come into play to help protect consumers’ data:
Questionable Data Collection: Many people forget that technologies such as Alexa are also collecting information. Every time you ask a question, the technology is saving this information under the guise it will be better able to anticipate your needs. But as it is doing this it is also accessing and retrieving information you might not even know has been “taken” from you. You don’t know what that information is, and you also don’t know how it will be used. The intent of data usage will have to become more transparent.
Paid for Data: This would be a mini miracle, but there is also the possibility that because companies are making so much money from consumer data, that at some point it might be legislated they pay not only a company like Facebook to access your data, but that should your info be used, you also get a cut.
Changing Options: Right now, there is one privacy agreement consumers are asked to click that has a broad overview of data usage. It is possible that there will be changes made so you can click a number of choices that defines how you are willing to share your date.
Consumer Protection: As with above, we should see some advancements that will be designed to collect information but ensure that consumer’s privacy and rights are protected. This will include avoiding decision making that could override consumer rights in the name of technology. Further legislation will also be put forward to protect consumers’ rights including ethical approaches to the use of data that will provide enforceable rules and regulations on usage.
Consumer Activism: As with any social progress, it is also up to consumers to voice their concerns and take action to protect their own rights. This can mean refusing to use platforms such as Facebook until changes are made.
Lost Income: There could be an impact on platforms such as Facebook if advertisers are unwilling to invest in advertising they view as less valuable. At the same time, companies that have come to depend on that precise targeting might feel they will lose business if they are less armed to reach who they need to with so much vital, deeply private information.
The list of data that can be affected by a breach is endless from gamers to health care providers. If you have personal information anywhere, data privacy has to be top of mind and you also have to remember that there is limited legislation that provides a clear outline of what can and cannot be done with that data. Reading privacy policies and any agreements a site asks you to read might seem meticulous, but it definitely deserves a good scan, so you know what you are allowing them to do with your information. On the flip side data breaches will also help drive companies to become more transparent when it comes to how they plan to use data. In other words, companies have to become more accountable.